Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 20, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – DAL REUNION

  • Transnet secures financing for port equipment and expansion programme

  • Transnet closes the port terminals for Election Day

  • NSRI to the rescue of ill seafarer

  • Kenya plans to open second port at Lamu by 2011

  • Mobile crane hire group takes delivery of largest capacity hydraulic crane

  • Pirates seize Durban-bound dredger

  • Pic of the day – MERMAID COMMANDER


    First View – DAL REUNION

    The Deutsche Afrika-Linien container ship DAL REUNION (27,786-gt, built 2006) last featured on these pages some weeks ago (30 March 2009), when we showed the ship sailing from Lyttelton harbour, New Zealand. Last week the ship was in Cape Town harbour, as seen in this view. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Transnet secures financing for port equipment and expansion programme

    Johannesburg, 17 April 2009 – Transnet Limited has secured a R915 million financing facility to the procurement of equipment for the ports of Durban, Ngqura and Cape Town.

    The loan, the first rand-denominated Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing facility is supported by Finnerva, the Finnish export credit agency and forms part of Transnet’s five-year R80 billion capital expenditure programme.

    The R915 million will be used to purchase straddle carriers and rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) for the Pier 1 Container Terminal in Durban, Cape Town’s newly upgraded container terminal, and the Ngqura Container Terminal which becomes operational in October.

    The supplier of all equipment for this transaction is Kalmar Industries Oy Ab, which has provided a substantial quantity of similar equipment to Transnet in the recent past.

    “This is an historic moment for us as it is the first ECA funding and it marks our foray into tapping international debt capital markets to part-fund our capex programme,” said Chris Wells, the company’s Acting Group Chief Executive.

    The financial facility was signed in Durban on Friday (17 April) and comprises four separate loans, with repayment periods of up to 10 years.

    “We are pleased to have leveraged the benefits of the ECA Umbrella Facility to secure competitively priced financing with long tenors,” said Wells. “In the prevailing complex market conditions the flexibility provided by an alternative source of financing represents an invaluable tool in implementing our long-term growth strategy. With the support of Barclays Capital, we have been able to obtain long-term rand financing, on a stand-alone basis, without full crystallisation. The bottom line is that we are accessing a deep pool of alternative funding at a price which is comparable to the domestic bond market.”

    He said it showed the bankability of Transnet’s project portfolio.

    The latest agreement follows last month’s announcement that Transnet and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) had signed an historic Ą35 billion (about R4 billion) untied loan agreement as part of funding the Company’s R80 capital investment programme. The proceeds of that loan are being used to fund the widening and deepening of the entrance to the Durban harbour, one of the strategically significant projects in Transnet’s capital programme.

    Transnet closes the port terminals for Election Day

    by Nthambeleni Gabara (BuaNews)

    Pretoria - Transnet Port Terminals will close all its port terminals along South Africa's coastline on Election Day (Wednesday 22 April) in order to grant employee's the opportunity to cast their votes.

    “South Africa's state-owned port operator Transnet Port Terminals has announced that all of its port terminals in six commercial ports along South Africa's coastline will be closed on the country's forthcoming voting day,” said Chief of Operations, Solly Letsoalo.

    Transnet Port Terminals manages 15 cargo terminal operations in Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Saldanha, Richards Bay and East London.

    Mr Letsoalo said all terminals would cease operations at 6am on Wednesday, 22 April and will reopen the following day at 6am.

    He said that Transnet Port Terminals supports the democratic processes in South Africa and believes that every individual has the right to cast their vote on Elections Day.

    “All staff will be expected to exercise this right along with the millions of other voters on the day,” he said.

    Note The above notification refers to Transnet Port Terminal and not necessarily to other privately operated terminals and activities in the various ports.

    NSRI to the rescue of ill seafarer

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) last week responded to a call for assistance from the bulk carrier EELOS (no vessel details available) which was then sailing approximately 15 n.miles off the port of East London. The vessel, which last called at a port in Nigeria reported having a seafarer on board who was suffering from malaria and in urgent need of medical attention.

    The NSRI launched its rescue craft ACSA Rescuer and proceeded to rendezvous with the bulker, accompanied by a Dynamic ambulance services paramedic who also delivered malaria tablets to the remaining 21 crew members on board the ship.

    The patient was transferred to the ACSA Rescuer and taken to the NSRI East London rescue base in a stable and satisfactory condition from where he was transported to a local hospital by Dynamic ambulance services.

    Kenya plans to open second port at Lamu by 2011

    One might think of it as fast tracking but according to the Kenyan government it intends having a second port constructed and in operation at Lamu by 2011.

    The new port, which has been previously announced, has had US$45 million allocated to its construction, according to Kenya’s Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakere. He said the new port would be larger than the port of Mombasa and that construction is due to commence in February 2010.

    “Everything being equal we should have the first ships calling at the Port of Lamu in Manda Bay by the end of 2011, when we shall have two to three berths ready to pick up or deliver cargo,” he said last week.

    The minister explained that the new port will be part of a larger $22 billion project aimed at providing a transport link between Kenya and Ethiopia and South Sudan. This includes construction of a highway and a railway connecting Lamu with Lokichokio near the Sudan border, with another shorter route linking it with Moyale in the north on the Ethiopian border from where an existing paved highway extends to Addis Ababa.

    “Ethiopia has already constructed their railway line to Moyale and ours is under construction," the minister said.

    He added that major airports in Lamu, Isiolo, Lokichokio and Moyale will be created, along with a pipeline to carry oil from South Sudan to the new port.

    He said that Kenya has already advertised for companies interested in undertaking the port construction, saying that he was confident that construction would be underway by February 2010.

    Lamu residents have accused the Kenyan government of a lack of transparency with its plans to build a new port at Lamu, saying there has been no consultation with local inhabitants while accusing government ministers of quietly buying up property in the area.

    “We only read in the newspapers and hear on the radio about the new port and are not informed about a project which is coming to our area,” said the local nominated Member of Parliament, Ms Shakila Abdalla. She accused some politicians of grabbing the land to sell it to the government and demanded that local people be made shareholders.

    The Lamu Town Council meanwhile says the government must engage with the council about a transport levy in which the council would charge for each tonne of cargo that moves through the town to and from the port.

    He said Lamu did not want a repeat of what was happening at Mombasa where the Kenya Port Authority has refused to pay the levy of one dollar per tonne that the Mombasa Town Council is demanding. According to the city the port authority should pay for the use of and damage caused to the city roads as a result of traffic from the port. The KPA has so far resisted these claims.

    Mobile crane hire group takes delivery of largest capacity hydraulic crane

    Sarens South Africa, the heavy lifting, projects and mobile crane hire group took delivery last week of the largest capacity hydraulic crane available in southern Africa, the Demag AC 650.

    It is a nine-axle, 720-t crane, equipped with 160-t counterweight, 96-m luffing jib, a lifting height of 140 m and a 60-m main boom, which arrived in Durban harbour on board the vehicle carrier TARIFA.

    Although the company will inherit the crane from Sarens Belgium, Sarens South Africa chief operating officer Peter Yaman says that a new hydraulic crane of this capacity would cost in the order of R50-million.

    The 720-t crane offers an enhanced capacity and longer reach. It incorporates separate fly jib components for additional reach, which can be offset by 20 or 40 degrees. The crane will therefore be able to complete higher-reach and longer-radius jobs and will have the option of lifting larger components. Yaman says that smaller components, which have previously been lifted separately, can be preassembled on the ground and elevated as a single piece. This is time efficient and safer because it increases the amount of work done at ground level.

    John Ford, Business Development Manager for Sarens SA, based in KZN, says that while the 720-t hydraulic crane has not been imported for specific projects, Sarens South Africa anticipates its use in larger petrochemical projects, which require the lifting of heavier vessels and are more challenging in terms of reach and radius, as well as construction and windmill projects.

    Prior to the delivery of the 720-t crane, the largest cranes available in South Africa have been 500-t hydraulic cranes and 800-t crawler cranes. While crawler cranes are able to lift heavier components than hydraulic cranes, they are more expensive to hire and take a couple of days to set up. Hydraulic cranes are ideal for once-off lifts and have a set-up time of only three to four hours if operated in the main boom configuration. According to Ford Sarens South Africa sees an opening in the market for a larger capacity hydraulic crane, which slots into gap between the biggest hydraulic and crawler cranes currently available.

    He says that there are foreseeable challenges in operating a crane of this capacity, including the logistics of getting the 160-t counterweight to site. Fifteen to 16 trailers are required to transport the crane and its components to and from its destination, which can be anywhere from Cape Town to Zambia. There are also strict regulations regarding road transport within South Africa, which limits the load that can be carried on trailers. This means that a greater number of trailers are required for the transportation of the crane and its outriggers may need to be removed and carried separately to reduce the total road-travelling weight.

    Sarens South Africa managing director Martin Verzijl says that another challenge lies in the fact that the mobile crane hire business is extremely diverse and each project will have its own requirements and circumstances. These include varying site restrictions and ground pressures, which have to be able to withstand the load of the crane.

    John Ford says that the skills shortage in South Africa also affects the functioning of a crane of this capacity. Sarens South Africa has an on-site training facility for crane operators. Senior operators that have worked with 400-t or 500-t cranes will be trained by experts brought in from Europe who have four to five years experience operating 720-t hydraulic cranes. He says that one does not want to limit the capacity of the hydraulic crane by not having access to the qualified people required for its operation.

    The hydraulic crane was shipped from Belgium on 27 March 2009, and arrived in South Africa on Friday.

    THE DEMAG AC 650 - South Africa has its first nine-axle, 720-t hydraulic crane, equipped with 160-t counterweight, 96-m luffing jib, a lifting height of 140 m and a 60-m main boom.

    Pirates seize Durban-bound dredger

    The Belgian dredging stone carrier POMPEI (1,482-gt, 1850-DWT, built 1988), en route to Durban for a harbour deepening contract, has been seized by Somali pirates. The ship with a crew of 11 on board is reported to be heading slowly towards the Somalia coast.

    At the time of the highjack the Pompei was approximately 600 n.miles east of the Somali coast in a zone recommended by the European Union naval taskforce operating in the area.

    Pompei is one of Jan de Nul’s more sophisticated and most modern side dumping vessels, and uses dynamic positioning for the accurate installation of rock protection on underwater rockberm construction. With a speed of around 9 knots and very low freeboard the ship would have been highly unlikely to have out-manoeuvered pirates operating from fast motor boats.

    In another incident off the Somali coast the newbuild Greek-owned and operated chemical products tanker HANDYTANKER MAGIC (24,066-gt, built 2009) came under attack from seven pirates operating in a skiff. At least one rocket grenade was fired onto the deck of the ship, without causing any damage. A Dutch warship which arrived on the scene shortly after the attack began prevented the tanker from being boarded and captured the seven pirates. It turned out that the skiff was a former Yemeni fishing boat that had recently been seized. The original crew of Yemeni fishermen were still on board the skiff and have been freed.

    Pic of the day – MERMAID COMMANDER

    The Thai-flagged offshore supply vessel MERMAID COMMANDER (4294-gt, built 1987) is another of a long string of offshore supply and salvage tugs and workboats to call at Cape Town, and to a lesser extent Durban, for bunkers and supplies and sometimes a crew change. With the escalation in acts of piracy near the Gulf of Aden even more of these vessels are being re-routed around the Cape and are likely to remain a common sight in these ports for some time. The Mermaid Commander called at Cape Town last week, on 16 April. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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